Antitrust Case Against Google Closed – Largely in Google’s Favor

FTC Google Antittrust Case

The Federal Trade Commission brought a case against Google regarding “search bias.” Google was accused of violating antitrust and anticompetition laws because of the way it had arranged search engine results pages. The Federal Trade Commission took on an “exhaustive investigation of Google’s business practices”. The FTC finally declared that Google has not violated American antitrust or anticompetition laws as they stand today, and settled with Google on the terms of voluntary commitments. Read more of the specifics of the FTC settlement.


Components of Google’s Settlement

Google made several ‘voluntary commitments’ to change their practices. These were in place of another option: signing a consent form by the FTC. Some fear that the voluntary nature of Google’s promises will limit the FTC’s power to enforce these commitments. Commitments by Google included the following:

1. Google committed to allowing competitors fair and reasonable access to patents on standardized technologies deemed critical to popular device manufacturing, including that of smart phones, laptops and tablets.
2. Google agreed to allow online advertisers flexibility in exporting ad campaigns from Google’s AdWords to rival ad platforms such as Microsoft’s adCenter.
3. Similarly to its agreement in a previous case with Yelp, Google agreed to refrain from using review, travel, or shopping data from other sites in its own search engine result page offerings.

FTC: “The law protects competition not competitors”

According to Jon Leibowitz, chairman of the FTC, “while not everything Google did was beneficial, on balance we did not believe that the evidence supported an FTC challenge to this aspect of Google’s business under American law.” Essentially, “the law protects competition not competitors.” As for now, Google has not breached any existing laws. Today, SEOs regard Google’s search penalties as law, in terms of what is “white hat” and “black hat” search engine optimization. In the coming years it will be vital to keep up with legal changes as well as Google refreshes in order to succeed. Learn more about search engine optimization with Applied Interactive.